Question: What is the number one killer of domestic pets in the U.S.?
Answer: Euthanasia at animal shelters. Over 9.6 million pets are euthanized every year.
Jim and I have always talked about starting up an animal rescue. We’d buy some rustic land, put rental cabins on it for revenue, and build an animal shelter with a focus on older and special needs dogs. We joked we’d call it “Jerry‘s Kids.”
So when Workamper News magazine had an ad with an opportunity at Safe Harbor Animal Farm in Maysville, South Carolina, I thought it would be a great chance to find out if running a shelter is something that might be in our futures. Safe Harbor’s founder, Dr. Lynn Swanson, was kind enough to give us our first workamper opportunity, and invited us to come on over.
Dr. Swanson and her partner Lee started Safe Harbor from the ground up, in 2003. Their focus is on spaying and neutering animals, as a way to end animal overpopulation. The organization is just past the start up phase of development, and they are in the process of finishing their spay / neuter clinic building. Our tasks ranged from helping out with the building, to clearing brush, to cleaning cat poo boxes.
Hard Work, Long Days
Like any small business, it seems that a shelter’s To Do list never ends, and money is an issue. But the biggest difference between running a business with clients, and running one with animals, is that you can’t send animals to voice mail when you don’t want to talk to them. Animals always need a human around to feed them, and give them shelter. There is never a day off. It consumes you.
We have to hand it to all of the kind hearted, driven individuals like Lynn in the world. It takes a very special person to advocate for animals full time. Ultimately, Jim and I learned that we are not cut from the same cloth as these individuals. Seeing how Lynn and Lee work so hard was concrete evidence that running a rescue is much, much more physically and emotionally challenging than running a typical small business.
Not Cut Out For It
This was a great learning experience. As a result, we have checked off “Running a Shelter” as a future career possibility. We’ll definitely keep helping out with animal causes, but our biggest way of contributing will probably be by fostering or adopting special needs dogs.
And remember; please don’t buy or breed cats and dogs!